Published on February 2nd, 2016 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Honda-powered Daytona prototype takes the win
Tequila Patrón ESM prevailed Sunday in a hard-fought Rolex 24 at Daytona, scoring Honda’s first overall victory at the famed event and the first IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship win for the new Honda HR35TT twin-turbocharged V6 engine. The ESM Ligier-Honda JSP2, shared by Pipo Derani, Johannes van Overbeek, Scott Sharp and Ed Brown, took the overall win by 26 seconds ahead of the Wayne Taylor Racing Dallara-Corvette DP driven by Jordan and Ricky Taylor, Max Angelelli and Rubens Barrichello, after a see-saw battle throughout the night time hours with multiple contending teams.
Starting on the outside of the front tow, Derani took the lead at the green flag, but soon fell back behind both the similar Ligier-Honda of Michael Shank Racing and the unique DeltaWing, which led much of the opening two hours. As night descended, the DeltaWing was eliminated by damage from contact with a stalled car, and the race developed into a contest among the pair of Ligier-Honda’s and a half-dozen rival Daytona Prototype teams. Starting third, Michael Shank Racing and drivers A.J. Allmendinger, Oswaldo “Ozz” Negri, John Pew and Olivier Pla moved their Honda-powered Ligier to the front for the first time at the two-hour mark with Pla at the wheel. Negri and Allmendinger also took turns at the point, as the MSR Ligier-Honda led for a total of 99 laps in the first eight hours. However, mid-way through the ninth hour, engine failure ended the race for MSR.
Although the MSR effort was over for this year’s Rolex 24, the ESM Ligier-Honda continued to run without issue, and at the 12-hour mark held a narrow, two-second lead over a trio of Daytona Prototype efforts, including the #5 and #31 cars of Action Express, and Wayne Taylor Racing #10 Corvette. As night turned into morning, all four cars remained on the lead lap and in contention for the victory. The ESM Ligier-Honda moved back into the lead for the final time with slightly more than two hours remaining, when Derani took over from co-driver van Overbeek, then caught an passed the #5 Corvette. Earlier in the race, Derani set fastest race lap, and he again exhibited both speed and control in the final hour to build a convincing, 26-second lead that he maintained to the checkers.